Pictured (L-R): Kieran Comerford, chair of Network of Local Enterprise Offices; John Mulholland, MyBio; Sean McKeown, head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny; Linda Nolan, MyBio; Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Two female-led businesses were among the winners at the 18th annual National Enterprise Awards, organised by the Local Enterprise Offices.
MyBio in Kilkenny, founded by Linda Nolan in 2009 to supply research products to companies in the life sciences industry, was crowned Overall Winner, while Anne Behan, founder of the Áine Knitwear brand in Clare, took the design award.
It was a good year for Ireland’s construction and property sectors, with Vision Built in Galway winning the export award (light steel gauge manufacturing), the Property Button in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown clinching the start-up category (utility transfer management) and Gannon Eco in Westmeath taking the innovation prize (reprocessing waste into raw materials).
All five winners were among the 24,000 small businesses supported by the network of 31 Local Enterprise Offices last year.
The National Enterprise Awards were set-up to celebrate the achievements of Ireland’s micro-enterprise sector and previous winners have included Irish Yogurts from west Cork, Hot Irishman Irish Coffee (Walsh Whiskey Distillery) from Carlow and DesignPro from Limerick.
Congratulating this year’s winners, Minister Richard Bruton TD said: “Small business, like the winners and finalists here at the National Enterprise Awards, are the driving force behind Ireland’s economic growth, and we must recognise and celebrate their achievements. Crucially, if we are to keep creating the jobs we need, then we must support more entrepreneurs to start and grow local businesses. That is why we have placed small businesses right at the centre of our Action Plan for Jobs, and put in place new measures like establishing a new system of easily-accessible supports through the Local Enterprise Offices.”
Kieran Comerford, chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices, said that the awards were a celebration of Ireland’s enterprise stories. He said: “These awards showcase local business heroes on a national stage. The Local Enterprise Offices are there to help identify and support the heroes in our society, who take the brave step of starting and developing their own enterprises.”
Prizes include a cash prize of €5,000 for the Overall Winner, €1,000 for the four category winners in addition to specially commissioned trophies.
Three other finalists made it through to this year’s National Enterprise Awards Final: Glendalough Distillery (supported by Local Enterprise Office Wicklow), Elemex (supported by Local Enterprise Office Louth) and Kinnegar Brewing (supported by Local Enterprise Office Donegal).
Adrienne Rodgers, chair of the organising committee with the Local Enterprise Offices said: “Small business owners are the risk-takers, the innovators and the job creators that form a key part of the enterprise ecosystem here in Ireland. They have all demonstrated true grit and determination, choosing not just to survive but to grow and establish their businesses even further.”
Overall Winner: MyBio, supported by the Local Enterprise Office Kilkenny
Design Award/Irish Design 2015 (ID2015): Áine Knitwear, supported by Local Enterprise Office Clare
Export: Vision Built Manufacturing, supported by Local Enterprise Office Galway
Start-Up: Property Button (Property Channel), supported by Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown
Innovation: Gannon Eco, supported by Local Enterprise Office Westmeath